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Photo by Claire Kopsky

Featured Article

Youngest Female Chief Meteorologist

Wake Up To This Emmy Award-Winning Weather Personality On News Channel 5

Nikki-Dee Ray, the woman who became America's youngest female chief meteorologist in 2011, now is seen weekdays on Middle Tennessee’s top-ranking morning show, News Channel 5 This Morning. Known for her forecasting accuracy, style, personality and faith, she began her career in Lubbock, Texas, and then led a team of meteorologists there.

"It was a huge honor so many people gave me that kind of credibility and responsibility at such a young age. It was really gratifying to be seen as more than just blonde hair and blue eyes on TV, but actually as a professional and someone the community could trust, especially in severe weather, which West Texas experiences frequently," Nikki-Dee recalls.

At the time, she says she didn’t think it would inspire others. "That has never really been a goal of mine, but because of how much social media has grown since 2011, more people than I even knew were watching. In the years following, it has always meant so much to me when I hear from a young meteorologist, or even reporter, who emails me to say they took inspiration from me. My focus has always been on serving my community though, and I aspire to be someone they can trust and turn to in need."

Weather attracted Nikki-Dee throughout her life, as evidenced by her being a “Kid Caster” at WHNT-TV in Huntsville, Alabama.

"I enjoy working as a meteorologist, but what's most important to me is being a trusted, reliable and active community member," she says. 

She adds: "I’m no police officer or first responder, but I do believe that being a meteorologist is a job that falls into the 'community servant' field. Growing up, I remember by grandfather Snooks (Leo Ray) was the one in our community who would open up the church as a shelter during severe weather. He always took it upon himself to calm everyone there, and provide for them. I learned a lot from him during those storms, and I try to carry that type of commitment to serving others in my job as a meteorologist, as well as in life."

The Tennessee Valley native attended Auburn University and Mississippi State University where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in atmospheric sciences. In Texas, she was awarded “Best Local TV Weathercaster” in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, she moved to Richmond, Virginia. She then was named Style Weekly’s “Best Meteorologist” each year between 2016-2019 among other community awards. She has won several Emmys, awards and recognitions.

While she says she's always been impassioned about weather, what she's most passionate about is serving her community, educating children on weather, fostering excitement about STEM and advocating for those with special abilities. "I strive to be accessible and available to our community so I can help make a difference at the end of the day," she adds. 

Among Nikki-Dee's community activities are guest visits to schools and local groups, such as police teams, farm bureaus, farmers, schools, first responders and nursing homes, as well as special abilities children and adults.

She and her husband, David, have two children. Nikki-Dee and David enjoy catching live country music, trying new restaurants (especially those with great Southern cooking), and getting fresh air by any body of water they can find. They also authored a children's book together:  Laura-Leigh Learns About Storms. She says the book is meant to comfort and inform children of all ages. One of Nikki-Dee's online followers, Melanie Lee Stephens, shared this experience regarding the book:  "I sat with my daughter in our safe place last week as we were under a tornado warning, and we read your book and talked about what could be happening outside and why we were hanging out in our safe place. What a treasure this beautiful book is! Thank you for sharing it with the world!"

  • Photo by Claire Kopsky